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  • VSO/MSO communications colleagues:  As you likely know by now, the Defense Department publicly announced the Jan. 1, 2020 expanded patronage action on Wednesday. See release at: https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5360 VA published a Vantage Point blog yesterday to amplify this further: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/67974/commissary-military-service-exchange-mwr-access-extended-veterans-beginning-january/ The link below goes to MilitaryOneSource and the fact sheet; this is 100% releasable public information to any Veteran, caregiver, or media requesting it. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/products#!/detail/780 VA will look to respond to questions concerning verifying Veteran and Primary Family Caregiver eligibility regarding VHIC card issuance and caregiver letter issuance. The VA Caregivers office is in final stages of coordinating letter issuance with DOD to the Primary Family Caregivers to ensure the information transfers to the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC).  We will refer back to DOD any questions received by VA regarding the benefit (offered in-person or online) or access to military installations. Social Media: #WelcomeHomeVets is the designated social media identifier for the patronage expansion of commissary, military exchange, and MWR retail privileges. The following additional hashtags and handles, when appropriate, should be used in conjunction with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media postings: - #DoDAccess - @ShopMyExchange for AAFES references - @NavyExchange, #NavyExchange, #MissionYou, or #MoreThanJustAStore for NEX references - @NavyLodge or #NavyLodge for Navy Lodge references# - YourCommissary When discussing the Veteran Health Identification Card, use @VeteransHealth When discussing target populations, use #DisabledVeterans, #Veterans, #PrimaryFamilyCaregiver, #Caregivers DO NOT use #Patronage or #PatronageExpansion in any social media posts Public affairs officers are authorized to upload released photos, stories, videos, and graphics to their organizational social media pages to illustrate eligibility, access, and privileges Communications offices are encouraged to link to the following websites and social media account pages: - Patronage Expansion Fact Sheet on Military OneSource: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/products#!/detail/780 Some context points also here: The VA VHIC card for 0-90 % service connected, Veterans, Purple Heart recipients and former POWs, and Primary Family Care Giver letter (plus valid Real, DOD, or government ID) for Primary Family Caregivers are the only acceptable forms of IDs for expanded access under this law. The fact sheet provides details on this. This new law does NOT cover being a just a former servicemember (DD 214 holder); you must be a “Veteran” under law with a relationship with VA (receiving benefits, and receiving or eligible to receive care) to access this benefit. Of the approximately estimated 4 million Veterans this could positively impact, over 3 million already have a VHIC card. “0” percent rated Veterans not eligible for VHIC got online privileges for now due to base access challenges that could not be overcome before Jan. 1, 2020; they get online shopping and travel discount website access; longer-term credential solution is needed. Of the estimated 37K this affects, our data shows ~6K live close to military installations. Benefits extended to Veterans through the Veteran Canteen Service (VCS) remain available and unchanged.
  • Link to the original article : https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5358 WASHINGTON – As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) efforts to promote grassroots innovations throughout its health care system, the agency recently crowned winners from the Veterans Heath Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem’s ‘Shark Tank’ competition during the Oct. 23, VHA Innovation Experience (iEx) event. The competition serves as a platform for employees to pitch their ideas for improving health care services for Veterans. The winners’ innovations will be implemented at select facilities. “This is a huge cultural shift from the way VA has done things in the past,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We can’t solve everything from Washington. Events and competitions like VHA’s ‘Shark Tank’ that showcase employees’ innovative ideas, empowers frontline personnel to take charge to improve services in needed areas.” The 12 practices and 15 medical center director winners were chosen from a pool of more than 500 applicants. The winning practices include expanded digital health capabilities, improved access to care and suicide prevention. The partnership between the creators of the practice and selected facilities will kick off at the Diffusion of Excellence Base Camp in February 2020 at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System . To view the finalists’ pitches from the 2019 VHA Shark Tank Competition visit the VA YouTube page . ### For questions related to this news release, please contact the following individuals: Susan Carter - Susan.carter2@va.gov Randy Noller - Randal.noller@va.gov Tatjana Christian – Tatjana.christian@va.gov Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs 810 Vermont Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20420 https://www.va.gov/ VA on Facebook . Twitter . YouTube . Flickr . Blog
  • Join us on November 20 for our next WISE webinar! https://choosework.ssa.gov/wise Find out how Ticket to Work resources can help veterans with disabilities prepare for successful post-service careers. With free services and support from Ticket to Work service providers, you can find help as you make the decision to return to work, look for a job, and successfully transition to civilian employment. During the November WISE webinar, we’ll talk about the job supports that can help you start on the path to work.  Join the webinar to find answers to questions like: - What types of services and job supports are available to help me re-enter the workforce? - How can I connect with a Ticket program service provider? - Where can I learn more about how working and earning income will affect my Social Security disability benefits? Register now Online: choosework.ssa.gov/wise By Phone:  1-866-968-7842  or  1-866-833-2967 (TTY) You will receive a registration confirmation message with instructions on how to log in to the webinar. Please be sure to check your spam folder. Questions about Ticket to Work? The Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) and want to work. Monthly WISE webinars offer you the opportunity to learn more about this important Social Security program, Work Incentives and other resources that can help you, or someone you know, succeed on the path to financial independence through work. Email us: support@choosework.ssa.gov Call us:  1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Visit our website: choosework.ssa.gov